The National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Co-Chair of the party's Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Bola Tinubu, has stated that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has no direction, therefore, distinct from the presidential candidate of the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, who, he said, is "a straight and honest man."
But the PDP responded swiftly, saying Buhari's claim to integrity is a fair-tale that belonged to the past.
This is coming as the inaugural campaign of APC in Lagos State yesterday turned violent with many sustaining injuries as two factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) clashed.
Tinubu also assured the president that the party's campaign council has accepted the assignment given to it by him and would not let him down.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, entitled, "We Accept President Buhari's Assignment," Tinubu said the characters of Buhari and Atiku are distinct.
According to him, "Buhari is a straight and honest man. Leave a naira on the table with Buhari in the room. You will find the naira on the table when you return."
Tinubu argued that when Buhari says 'yes' or 'no' everyone knows where he stands.
"He means what he says, no more, no less. With Atiku things are more nuanced. When Atiku speaks, he may mean 'yes,' 'no,' 'may be,' I don't know,' 'come back tomorrow,' 'all the above,' or 'none of the above.' His compass has four needles pointing in different directions at the same time. He knows of no direction to take. President Buhari's word is his bond. When Atiku speaks, it is to give you the slip," he explained.
The APC national leader said the country could not afford a president whose ways and mind is a maze of contradicting urges and colliding desires, stressing that this shows he has no vision for the country and no guiding principles except the naked pursuit of power for the naked use of that power.
Tinubu added that Atiku had his chance to shine as vice president when he controlled the privatisation programme of the Obasanjo government.
He accused the former vice president of abusing this assignment and helping to squander billions of dollars on power generation that did nothing.
He said, "That government had so much money at its disposal and that is exactly what it did. It disposed of the money yet failed to treat the poor or build for the future. Atiku laid waste to the national treasury for eight long years. That is enough for one lifetime. We should not reward him by giving him another eight years because the more he feeds, the stronger his hunger grows.
"His is a thirst that can't be quenched and a hand that cannot be restrained from taking whatever is on the table. As the PDP candidate, he is now the leader of an avaricious horde that seeks to re-attach its mandible once again to the public wealth and forever lay siege to our nation's future. Nigerians would do well not to pay them any attention."
Tinubu said the PDP should not be allowed to return to power and "return to the days where they rule the nation like overlords," adding that APC's campaign council would not let Buhari down "because doing so would also let down the nation."
He rallied members of the campaign council with Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as Director-General, for the task ahead.
PDP: Your Fairy-tale About Your Candidate Obsolete
But the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation cautioned Tinubu, over his derogatory remarks against its party's presidential candidate.
The main opposition party said the APC national leader ought to be found in the class of respected senior citizens who are decorous; speak statesmanlike and not resorting to the "gutters" whenever he speaks in public.
The Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said that it was also imperative to know that the fairy-tales of integrity, which he weaved around Buhari in 2015, has waned and become obsolete.
According to him, "The PPCO wants, Tinubu, as the Asiwaju of Lagos State, to know that he has the responsibility of tutoring the younger generation on the culture of the Yoruba, which holds that when a child is given the errand of a slave, he delivers it like a freeborn."
Ologbondiyan said that at this critical time, when majority of Nigerians expect true democrats, which Tinubu had always claimed allegiance, to come together and rescue the nation from the absurdity of governance that the APC and the Buhari Presidency represent, it is unfortunate that the APC leader chose to be tied to the aprons of anti-democratic interests.
He said, "Tinubu ought to be found in the class of respected senior citizens who are decorous, speak statesmanlike and not resorting to the gutters whenever he speaks in public.
"In politics, family ties and bonds as well as relationships are greater and stronger than political interests and it is the expectation of our campaign organisation that Tinubu should understand this.
"It is, therefore, strange, if not ridiculous, that the Asiwaju of Lagos State can be dancing around an anti-people government at this time.
"Our advice to Tinubu is that he should be watchful ahead of his 2023 wishful presidency interests because those he is dining with today, have demonstrated in time past, that they can always use and dump him.
"Tinubu should know that among the ranks of presidential candidates, Atiku Abubakar stands out as that candidate Nigerians trust and believe in as their next President, come May 29, 2019."
Violence Mars APC Campaign in Lagos
Meanwhile, the inaugural campaign of APC in Lagos State yesterday turned violent with many people sustaining injuries as two factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) clashed.
The violence broke out between the supporters of NURTW Chairman, Oshodi Branch, Alhaji Musiliu Akinsanya (a.k.a MC Oluomo) and that of his Lagos Island counterpart, Alhaji Azeez Lawal (a.k.a Kunle Poly) at the campaign held at Sky Power Ground, Ikeja GRA.
The crisis erupted shortly after the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, mounted the podium to deliver his speech in which he urged 6.5 million voters of the state to massively vote for Buhari and the APC governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
THISDAY findings revealed that disagreement first ensued in the rank of the executive members of the NURTW, including the state's Chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, Tafa Sego, Musiliu Akinsanya and Azeez Lawal after they crowded the stage set for Fuji star, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde Marshall (KWAM 1).
Subsequently, the supporters of MC Oluomo were said to have fired gunshots to announce their presence at the venue of the campaign, thereby culminating in the eruption of violence on the stage, which later spread to other parts of the venue.
Investigations showed that MC Oluomo was pushed from the stage and stabbed by some hoodlums who were said to be loyal to other factions of the NURTW in the state.
He was later taken away from the scene.
As a result of the violence, the Lagos State Police Command declared one Mustapha Adekunle aka Sego, wanted for attempting to disrupt the APC rally.
The police also said they were able to arrest two persons so far in connection with the fracas.
While debunking claims that two people died in the rally, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chike Oti, told THISDAY that the casualties of the fracas actually survived and are recuperating in the hospital.
He said: "Nobody died in the crisis because the police immediately contained it. If people say there are dead bodies, they should provide them. We have two injured persons and not corpses."
The violence had abruptly ended Sanwo-Olu's inaugural campaign on a bad note yesterday.
In his message of assurance, however, Ambode led other political leaders in the state to unveil Sanwo-Olu's campaign, urging voters to support the APC candidates at all levels to ensure continuity of good governance.
Ambode said it was on record that only Buhari showed concern about the abandoned infrastructure in Lagos State and was working on their renewal in conjunction with the state government.
He argued that it was time for residents to support the candidates of the party across all levels to consolidate on the gains so far recorded.
Ambode, who was at the rally with his wife, Bolanle, said the forthcoming elections would not be about religion or ethnicity, but about the need to return a government that had showed genuine care for the people, adding that it was clear that the President had walked the talk.
At the national level, he said, "We have only one choice, the choice of continuity is what we want and we need continuity and consolidation. We need to vote for Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
"This election at the national level is not about religion neither is it about tribe. It is about those who have the poor at heart. You know at the national level, we are already doing TraderMoni, we are doing N-Power and we are already doing Employment Trust Fund, among other things.
"We know we would be glad to return Buhari. He had shown for all the abandoned infrastructure projects in the state. It is only Buhari that has been propagating the renewal. So, we are very conscious that we need to continue voting for the APC," Ambode said.
At the state level, Ambode said from 1999 till date, Lagos had continued to witness progressive growth, saying Lagosians should support the APC candidates to consolidate and take the state to higher levels.